El lince / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

The Lynx

     He had paid in false coins the price of my house, leaving me barefoot and out on the street.

     I started earning my living again with a pathetic job. I had to remain in the rice paddies for ten hours a day, sunken in the tenacious mud. The hat with the figure of a parasol barely protected me from the summer sky. Around that area is where the typhoon wind ran, strong enough to twist the trees and pull the Europeans’ ships onto land, animated and blackened by a carbon fire.

     I denounced my case with the magistrates of the province. They were desperate from repressing the cheaters and thieves. They had exhausted their imagination inventing terrible punishments. They would gradually amputate the offender’s person until reducing him to a torso or they would stretch his neck in a wooden clamp. Any movement could separate the victim’s head.

     I resolved to abandon my job as a farmworker and follow the trail of the author of my misfortune. The magistrates encouraged me by paying me a modest salary.

     I passed on a raft to the island of Hong Kong, seat of the English pirate and refuge for the continent’s highwaymen. The police agents, ignorant of the country’s character and language, would suffer mockery and thefts.

     I occupied myself with guiding them amidst the crowds and confusion of the gambling dens. I visited the opium dens and applied blows to each one of the depraved men with deranged and emaciated faces.

     A courtesan put me on the path of discovery. She approached me cheerful and spirited, running about and laughing. The porcelain face would light up with laughter and her hair imitated the form of a bird with its wings outstretched. A few scamps were burning petards in front of her house.

     She gave me the details of a subterranean gambling den. Moral precepts, stamped in pennants and banderoles, denied the character of the place. The island’s wealthiest businessmen would venture their fortune by the timorous light of a paper lantern. The author of my disgrace served as a banker and money changer. Long flowing robes, of yellow color, accentuated his peaceful obese man’s gestures.

     I handed him over to the British gendarmes and obtained his restitution to the magistrates of my province.

     I was invited, as a reward for my services, to choose the manner of his execution.

     He ended up on his knees and with his forehead on a piece of crockery.

     An elephant, on which I rode, pressed down and cracked his head open with one of its front feet.

Las formas del fuego (1929)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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